Saturday, September 29, 2007

Siegfried's at George Brown College
George Brown students in the hospitality and tourism program work at Seigfried's one day a week to gain valuable, first hand knowledge and expertise of the restaurant industry.

Our little sister Kiki is a first year student of the program (she's all grown up now!) and works on Fridays at the restaurant serving up delectable dishes that the students in the culinary program make.

She made $11 in tips on her first day and I think has not spilled any food on any patrons or broken any dishes - yay!

l to r - Friend and Kiki
Anyone can go to the restaurant and eat and drink as long as reservations are made. We have a gift certificate and will try and get there before it expires on Oct.13. The food looks fab and the students are briefed each day with the menu's ingredients, dishes and pairings with wine. It is a great program and some of the city's top chef's have graduated from there. Yesterday the Prime Minister of Barbados was there dining along with Ontario's Tourism Minister - Jim Bradley - am sure we were showing off the restaurant to the lovely PM.

If only they would teach Kiki how to make rice in a pot without burning it. Too bad she is not on the chef side!
And yes, Kiki is our Japanese sister, she doesn't look Sicilian does she?


Friday, September 28, 2007

Alphabet City - better than Korean BBQ!Not only is chef Anthony Rose cute he is a great cook too!
Get to an event at the Alphabet City Festival.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Korean bad-b-qIf this is what is plopped on your table at dinner would you feel hungrier or a little bit grossed out? Presentation is everything and with this put on our table I felt a little queasy as there was such an array of meat and fish in their various bloody juices, in these little trays - all mixed together it was a bit much - we declined on the ox-tongue and livers thankfully!

I knew when we got to Korean Grill House at 214 Queen Street West and walked through their dirty-ish entrance that it could go either way -we could either have a spectacular meal or it would be bad. Unfortunately the latter was true. The all-you can eat part of the menu should've triggered another signal but it didn't and instead we ordered it and waited for the main event to begin.

I actually suggested this restaurant so was very optimistic - I had guests in town and wanted to impress them with the culinary excellence this city has to offer, I guess I will have to try again as this place was nothing to write (or email) home about. The reason I wanted to go there was every time I drove by it looked busy and I could see people happily eating and bbq-ing at their little tables.

I guess if you look at the price for all-you-can eat meat and fish and it is only $12.95 then you should ask yourself what kind of meat and fish are they using? Obviously cheap cuts and bad quality.

The meats arrived in sliver thin slices which made bbqing them quite quick, but if you weren't quick enough they burned and then they left a layer of black burnt stuff on the bbq. After that everything tasted the same - burnt, which probably added some flavour as there was none to begin with. After having a sip of the milky looking miso soup -which was horrid - I gave it back to the waitress then decided to start on the meat fest. I ate a bit of the pork and white fish which was ok when doused in soy sauce ... I then tried the squid and chicken - which was totally flavourless.

I can't write any more as it will just be a rant on how every item of food looked and tasted awful it was just such an terrible experience. The only positives: the side salads were decent and the staff was friendly enough but again nothing to write home about. Am sure there are better quality Korean bbqs in town and will have to check them out...

If you click on their link to their website you will see how the food is supposed to look but then compare them with my pictures - not even close...this place should be in some back alley in Chinatown. I guess you get what you pay for!
first food on the bbq...
end of bbq fun.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bellas & bellinis at Terroni
It was a mini reunion with mommies and the teacher, only the politician was missing. We headed to Terroni at Yonge & St. Clair for a good catch up and a great meal; we got both! It was good to see the two mommies all dressed up and looking fab (no milk stains on their clothes or in their Lululemon 'home' gear) They ordered Bellinis - which is new to the Terroni menu - and were great fun.

Bellinis on the menu is quite shocking as I don't think southern Italians drink them and Terroni prides itself on being super southern Italian (e.g. no cutting the pizza, no deviations to the toppings etc). Bellinis originated in Veneto which is in the north of Italy and most people know that northern Italians dislike southern Italians and sometimes give them the derogatory name of - Terrone/i (which is where Terroni's name comes from) It is a rude word that northerners call southerners which when translated means people of the terra (land-farmers). Ask an Italian about the love-hate relationship that northerners and southerners have with each other. The Bellinis were made with Prosecco and peach sugo di frutta (fruit nectar) which are both very popular in southern Italy (even though Prosecco also comes from Veneto?!).
Will have to investigate this more...

I ordered the black ink spaghetti which was great but not amazing like the one at Grano (Yonge & Eglinton). The reason for this was that the one at Grano is actual white spaghetti with the black squid ink - which makes your plate, teeth and lips completely black and disgusting while the one at Terroni is a black squid ink pasta which is very easy to eat, you stay clean all over and don't turn your pearly whites into vampire fangs. The only downside to keeping clean / the Terroni version is the taste is half as potent and delicious as the black ink sauce...try them both and you will see what I mean.

We ordered the mushroom appetizer and the ladies ordered the amazing pizzas. I had a lovely glass of red too....mmmm, like most Torontonians, I never get tired of eating at Terroni.

(I have more pics but my laptop is acting up - will post when I get through to the Mac helpdesk)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Where art meets food - Eat the Food!
At one of my favourite galleries in TO there is a food related exhibition that is on display from now until October 28, 2007. The exhibition called Eat the Food is on at the MOCCA - Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Queen Street W.)

It is: A gastronomical journey through art, looking into the uses of food as a subject and metaphor in art in all its forms including different ways of eating, cooking and thinking about food. The exhibition features "Meatcandy" by Henrik Schrat, Greiz, Germany. A large mural divided into two spheres, people and food production machine, will be painted onto the gallery walls. Also featured are videos of slaughter houses, farm animals in people's living room more artsy takes on the way we look at food and food production...Eat the Food! interferes with many of our assumptions surrounding food, the food industry, its production, its distribution, and the very essence of the matter we call food.

You might even see Mike Meyers there as I have seen him a few times around town, the last one was noshing on some sushi at the Drake Hotel (their sushi is amazing)

There will also be food demonstrations by Susur Lee and they will be taking food donations at the gallery.

I wonder if there will be free food? Ask someone on a date and go there.


Friday, September 21, 2007

A chip aboveUpon recommendations by many, we finally got to try out Chippy's on Queen St. West and I have to say I think the battered cod was the best I have ever had.

I always think I like fish and chips but then when I order it I remove all of the batter from it which I feel defeats the purpose, non? At Chippy's there was no such removals. The batter was so thin on the fish it was delicious and with each bite you could taste both fish and light batter, it was divine! I ate the whole thing quickly with no leftovers . The chips were also nice and fresh, you could see some poor girl pumping potatoes into a machine in the back - must be a hard job to do all day .

Get to Chippy's to taste some great fish and chips and see the boys in the shop moving like lightning to some great music while serving customers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Five Doors North...of nothing
The restaurant Five Doors North used to be five doors north of Gio the lively restaurant which only had a big nose protruding onto the street as it's sign. I took my mom to Gio's a few years ago where decor included a washing line of women's bras and panties over our table, graffiti on the wall and other interesting bits and bobs hanging around the restaurant (we really loved it).

Now the restaurant Five Doors North is just that - a restauarant with no link to its interesting name. It is actually not five doors north of anything except another restaurant that opened after Gio's - which has now shut down. Five Doors North does have interesting decor -crazy vintage lamps hanging from the ceiling - and great service - our waiter was superb, lovely and overall truly wonderful!

Well at Five Doors North we had a lovely birthday celebration with some lovely Aussie wine and some great antipasti and mains. I ordered the crab cake starter and the eggplant main (see pic). The crab cake was lacking in some wow-inducing flavour but the eggplant was lovely with an interesting red pepper puree and a pesto sauce which gave the large chunk of Sicilian eggplant flavour.

Sis and the Brit got the spicy seafood stew with mussels, calamari, shrimp & stripe bass which they raved about while the other guests got salmon encrusted with pumpkin and sunflower seed and the ravioli with a veal jus. Yummy! It was all very well made and fresh which is always good. My only comment is that some things were a bit salty which for me is a big comment as I do like to have more salt than others on my food.

I recommend it and it is only a hop, skip and a few doors south of the corner of Yonge & Eglinton.

And... it's old neighbour Gio's is now on Queen St. East in Leslieville and is called Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant - it still has no sign, just the big nose!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One, two, tree
Many Sicilian men and the Irish have one thing in common; with their accents - they pronounce the number three the same way - 'tree'.

The pic is of three Irish fellas who own a bar in NYC called Bua, located in St.Mark's square in the East Village. David, who is in the middle is the lovely boyfriend of my fabulous friend Nat.
Bua celebrated their 3rd anniversary this past week which is a great accomplishment for a bar or business for that matter - as there is some awful statistic that one out of three businesses fail in their first year - ouch!

So to make fun of their Irish accents they got these t-shirts made for their anniversary party. Congrats Bua! I can't wait to come visit and have some great Irish hospitality.

Bua in Irish Gaelic means 'victory' which is appropriate for their success!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home made doggyLook at this masterpiece made by Mrs. Lio. It is actually a character called Blues Clues, for those of you not up to speed with children's characters.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Get poaching

Not sure if Sicilians really eat poached eggs as I never had one in my life except for when I was an adult. Not sure if you can classify this as poached? My grandmother used to put eggs in a tomato sauce stew which she made with vegetables and meat in a shallow-ish pot. The egg was delicious as it soaked up the flavours of the stew and it was fully cooked.

The poached eggs I have had have been mainly in hotels where the chef at breakfast plops an egg into semi-boiling water with some vinegar in it, and it is then eaten with toast at breakfast and usually the inside is runny. So not sure if the Sicilian version can be called poached, will have to look it up. What do you think?

Well today Nat's from Sauf London (who is in town on a stopover before she hits Quebec for some amazing poutine and then the re-fried beans capital of the world - Mexico City) showed me how to make the perfect poached egg. We used rice wine vinegar from our Japanese friends as we only have balsamic vinegar in this house.

It's easy...boil water and add a few tsps of vinegar to the pot. Turn the heat low so the water is not bubbly boiling (as this breaks up the egg). Once the water is calm, stir up water and plop the egg into the little swirl of water that forms, it will envelop the egg and after a few minutes you will have a perfectly formed poached egg (as in the pic!). We made a great salad with onions, fresh corn, tuna and a poached egg for our late afternoon lunch.

It was filling and we weren't hungry but then dropped in on the Lio family and had home made lasagna! Mmm....there is always space for home made lasagna, non??!

I am going to make poached eggs more often now that I learned how to do such a simple thing...thx Nat!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Top chefs in the city will be at the Brickworks on Sunday to support Slow Food Toronto and Evergreen Brick Works (a project to turn the Don Valley Brick Works factory into an environmentally friendly community centre). There will be fresh food and wine producers there letting you taste their goodies. It should be a great day out and with this weather it will be great to see the old factory under the beautiful sun!

Just take a look at which chefs will be there…they are the top chefts from the best restaurants in the city!

Chefs / Restaurateurs

* Auberge du Pommier - Jason Bangerter
* AGORA - Anne Yarymowich
* CAVA - Chris McDonald / Doug Penfold
* Chez Victor - David Chrystian
* chezvous Dining - Ezra Title
* Corner House Restaurant - Herbert Barnsteiner
* Cowbell - Mark Cutrara
* Czehoski / Coca - Nathan Isberg
* Drake Hotel - Anthony Rose
* Eigensinn Farm - Michael Stadtlander
* en Ville Catering - Rui Cardoso
* EPIC at The Fairmont Royal York - Jean-Charles Dupoire
* Fat Cat Bistro - Mathew Sutherland
* Four Seasons Hotel Yorkville - Robert Bartley
* Gay Couillard
* George Restaurant - Lorenzo Loseto
* Globe Bistro - Ben Heaton
* guerrilla gourmet - Maria Solakofski
* Il Fornello - Owen Steinberg /Ian Sorbie
* Izakaya Restaurant - John Sinopoli
* Jamie Kennedy Kitchens - Jamie Kennedy / Tobey Nemeth
* La Palette French Bistro - Brook Kavanagh
* Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment - Brad Long
* Niagara Street Café - Michael Caballo
* Ontalia - Angelo Bean
* Oyster Boy - Adam Colquhoun
* Pangaea - Martin Kouprie
* Quince - Michael van den Winkel
* Reds Bistro & Bar - Michael Steh
* Scaramouche - Keith Froggett
* Soma Chocolatemaker - David Castellan
* Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill - Kyle Deming
* The Gladstone Hotel - Marc Breton
* The Stop Community Food Centre - Joshna Maharaj
* Veritas Local Fare - Deron Engbers
* Vertical Restaurant - Tawfik Shehata

Bad news, as I was looking for more info I just read that the event is sold out ☹
Well now you have a great list if you are stuck for a place to eat somewhere that is fabulous.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hue, Vietnam
Now some countries may think we are horrible for eating cows (as they are sacred in India) but we may look at this pic and think it is equally horrible. It was taken by Trond who is in Vietnam, just one of the stops on his world tour, and yes it is a dog. I may take this pic down tomorrow as am not sure I can look at it for too long either.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

OMG great food at the festOh my golly, the food at V-fest was great!

It wasn't the burgers and dogs they were selling, it was the catering by Rustico Fine Foods that we loved. We had VIP passes to the fest which we loved. We were on a viewing platform (see pic) and we saw the concerts with no heads blocking our view or any elbows or sweaty fans rocking the party next to us. It was all very civilized. The best part of the VIP treatment was the food catered by Rustico Fine Foods...oh, and the VIP ferry.

Our menu on day one consisted of a lovely green bean dish with beef medallions, jerk chicken and salmon in a coconut sauce and on day two we had a tandoori chicken, roasted lamb and a chick pea salad and chick pea ratatouille-like dish. On both days there were lovely salads with vinaigrette dressing and sweet potato chips - yum! All dishes were served with lovely mango and other chutneys. I think there was more on the menu but will have to check with my partner in crime as she raved about the food as much as I did (and she has a better memory!)

I would definitely check out their catering services if you are looking for a caterer. I think we met Andrew Underwood the executive chef and partner in the business... we told him how much we enjoyed our dinners on both days.

It was a great weekend and it's oh so nice when you get that extra special treatment and a fantastic meal!

The only thing was that we could not have any alcoholic drinks on the viewing platform - for reasons that I could not comprehend?!? (I think there are too many health and safety laws in Canada) See pic. of Ranoush sneaking a sip of her beer. So wild and dangerous, non? ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Attack of the killer tomato!Tomato season rolled around again this year, this time I was lucky enough to be in the country to participate in the festivities - albeit very briefly. The tomato churning contraption was brought out from the cellar - complete with lawnmower motor, wheel and rubber band that was spraying tomato sauce on my arm, wooden base and more bells and whistles that my uncle added to his trusty machine.I think it made it through the whole day and without any mishaps. I do believe that my cousin had a new machine in a box on the day but 'the boss' (pic below of the boss) will probably not allow us to use it until this one blows up. So they day went with washing, grinding and scooping tomatoes lovingly into jars. It is a family tradition and one that ours will probably do forever. Even Bill the neighbour came to chat with the workers. But there was no break room or break schedule ;)

On a side note this work is long and hard and our family in Sicily do not even do this anymore?! They buy the peeled and canned tomatoes straight from Modena. I wonder if they think we are archaic?

But it is worth it all in the end, the tomato sauce the Dolce and the Palazzolo family produce is delicious, fresh, organic and divine!
An impromptu break by the workers...stop laughing before the boss sees you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Humble home of Gryfe'sThey say the simplest things are the best. I think everyone expects the home of Gryfe's Bagels to be grand and wonderfully chic because they admittedly have the best bagels in the world.
But no, they are housed in a non-descript unit on Bathurst Street, with probably the same furniture that they started with way back when. No fancy fridges, counters or shop decor.

Only friendly staff and bagels in glass bins for all to admire. I love the old school feel without it being made up. It is a genuine place where many would probably walk by and not notice but those who know, come in droves.

Every time I am there I am in a queue of people ordering 2-3 dozen bagels at a time and when I went last I got there at around 3pm and they had sold out of double poppy seed bagels, which are my favourite!

I highly recommend this place. I have yet to taste a better bagel.
Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine eats poppy seed muffins and tests positive for Opium?! That could be me!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cupcake fanaticLittle Mr. Quinn Jr. loves to make cupcakes, if it was up to him we would make them every day. He especially loves to put the sprinkles on.

I think he likes the process of making them more than eating them. He mixes the batter, pours the water and oil and loves to help scoop them into their little paper homes. He is such a cooking angel. He says he wants to be a baker when he grows up.

Giving kids responsibility in the kitchen keeps them occupied and also teaches them about food. My sister is never scared to let him get his hands dirty and help with all the cooking tasks. He sometimes uses a knife too which scares me but he has been taught how to use it properly and knows it is something he needs to be very careful with.

Kids these days are amazing, just give them a chance and they will shine!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Want bread, get it here....And they have the nicest egg bread covered in chocolate that they make fresh Sunday mornings. I tried to get a pic of it on the weekend but it was devoured before I could get a photo. This is all that was left.

The locations of the bakery are a bit far for us city dwellers but they do deliver to many shops and supermarkets around the city so just look for the Nino D'Aversa label on the bag when buying fresh bread. They were established in 1969 and I believe they are still run by the D'Aversa family.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dainty Espresso Not usually a fan of garage sales but my sister has turned me on to them this summer. You can actually find some great stuff for great prices. Juizy got a vintage cruiser bike for $10 - it rides well and is so comfy and retro cool! Someone even shouted out during the end of summer beach parade 'hey nice Schwinn!' which is the brand of the bike.

Another find was this espresso maker at a neighbour's sale at the cottage. Dale, originally from South Africa had a great sale and I think did quite well with takings. She is a lovely lady and we talked about our favourite South African things: rooibos tea and Ouma rusks.

I think we bought this beautiful butterfly patterned espresso maker for 25cents?! You can fit 4 tiny espresso cups around it to make a strong espresso. We didn't have a chance to try it out yet but next time we will make some and bring some over to Dale with milk as she doesn't like strong coffee...or we will just sit on the porch and sip rooibos.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Garden syrups
Lars's girfriend writes about knitting and crocheting but also about other sweet things in Norwegian and English. We met Lars, Trond and Espen in Fiji who were an interesting bunch. See his girlfriend Hilde's site if you can understand Norwegian or just to look at some other interseing pics.

Her recipe for syrups is below. They are easy to make and will work well served over ice cream and fruits, and they look gorgeous too. Beautiful pics are courtesy of Hilde.

Lemon thyme syrup

2,5 dl water
200 g sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon thyme leaves
1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed
Seeds from half a vanilla bean

For those who haven’t got any herbs around, there’s also another variant. I tasted one that my mother made, which is spicy, mild and sweet. I believe it will work especially well with a fruit salad containing citrus fruits.

Spice syrup

2,5 dl water
200 g sugar
½ cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
Seeds from half a vanilla bean

For both syrups, the same method is used. Just put everything in a casserole, bring to the boil, and let it simmer for a little while until it’s reduced and a bit thickened. It’s difficult to say for how long, but you can put some syrup on a cold plate, and when it’s become a little thick (but not to thick), it’s finished. The amount of ingredients is not to be seen as absolutes. You have got to taste, and maybe add some until it tastes like you prefer it to. Then it’s just a matter of getting that fruit salad and/or ice cream on the table :-)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

BBQ femme fatalesScared to turn the propane tank off, burned the steaks and let 50% of the roasted vegetable slices fall through the grill - for Saturday's dinner the ladies were in charge of the BBQ while the men were at the Pillar and Post spa getting massages - huh - role reversal non?!

It took three females in different shifts and using different techniques to dodge the billowing smoke to make the steaks, vegetables and potatoes. They were all well done of course as bloody steaks are not the favorite with the laydees. It was a funny sight and these two photos show how lovely Lisa was presiding over the bbq at one point. It was all done with a little flare-jewelery et al.

My sister's latest and greatest thing to cook on the bbq is finely sliced potatoes with the skin on them. They taste amazing - just lightly brush them with oil and place them on the grill. Be careful not to lose most of them down the grill - this happened to her but probably because she was using a faulty set of tongs. (notice the jewels, manicure and...charred steak-men don't look this nice bbq'ing)

Men - teach your ladies to bbq so when you happen to be at the spa we can hold court!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Zio's cucuzzaMy uncle is trying to win a competition for the longest squash - in Sicilian dialect we call them cucuzza (not even sure how to spell it?!) pronounced kuh-KOO-zah.

It is a serious competition that happens every year at a car dealership, I wonder if you win a car? Not sure if he is going to win this year as have seen them longer and fatter in previous years.

Will keep you posted as to the length he enters and what the winner was.

The cucuzza has white flesh with seeds in the center, similar to a cucumber. You can slice and dice it and use it in many different ways. Fried with a breadcrumb and egg coating, added to soups and sauces and it can even be used in muffins. I love it fried and in soups the best.

Back from a long weekend away, regular posting to commence again.